Temperatures are up, so is the rage. We’re in the middle of a crime wave in New York, in Chicago, everywhere where there is heat and handguns.
The Guardian broke down a couple possible culprits for all the anger:
One theory holds that people are more easily agitated in the heat because adrenaline and testosterone levels rise in the warmer temperatures. If higher temperatures were causing greater crime rates, then we should see crime incidences peak when temperatures are at their highest.
A second theory is that more crime is committed when more people gather in public. During the summer, people – including, say, troubled teenagers who might otherwise be in school – spend more time outside, creating more opportunity for interactions of all sorts, including criminal behavior.
I have one more culprit to add to the list: summer break. In my house, there’s no hint of murder, but the anger is up all the same. Sure, it’s because I have a short fuse and am not a real grownup and so on, but it is also because all our months of work finely tuning a before-school routine has been obliterated by the end of school. First, there were the uncertain weeks of half-days and early dismissals. Then, several weeks of unscheduled time, with grandma or babysitters—they stop school, but work doesn’t stop for us. And now this: a new morning routine before their “camp”, a routine that apparently is too challenging for me and my überdawdlers to get done without some measure of tears and howling.
Two morning ago, I did not hit my children—that would be a bit gauche, dontcha think?—but I sure got an idea of why people do. A short time after they woke up, dewy and innocent, my 4 and 6 years old children began a campaign of willful obstinance and obstructionism. Each of the little tasks that make up the larger process of getting their asses out the door by 8:30 became an opportunity for them to flop on the couch, to fight with each other, to feign illness. The clock ticked on, my every instruction fell on on deaf ears, and eventually I lost what little cool I had woken up with.
Suffice it to say that there’s not much fun or function in yelling at people who weren’t listening when you were talking calmly. And yelling at kids in particular feels like it might be a good idea until you start doing it, and then you realize it’s just not that satisfying. When we finally got them to their little urban summer camp, we were an hour late, and I was a hot mess of remnant anger mixed with a bit of regret at being the kind of father who has to verbally trounce his kids to get them out the door.
This is not the first time I’ve struggled with anger at the kids. I wrote about it a while back in a post called The Cutest Thing I’ve Ever Wanted to Kill, whose title pretty much tells you all you need to know about that: Me driven somewhat insane by people I happen to care a lot about. That was not a winter post. That was dead of summer, with more unscheduled time, this in half-rural Missouri at my grandparents.
Let’s agree that summer is evil, then. It brings out the worst in everyone. It leads to gunplay and shouting at preschoolers. For parents, the question still remains: why? I obviously am tempted to blame summer camp and their set of new rules about what campers should wear in the morning, and how their change of clothes should be packed. But there’s a more troubling answer out there: maybe it’s all the extra time with the kids. Maybe I’m just not cut out to spend entire days consecutively with my children, at least not in my current incarnation, as a dude with a lot of work to do and not enough hours in the day to get it done. In summer, the demands from work stay the same, the demands from family go up. I lack the grace to balance it all. And, as always, the innocent (and the dawdling) suffer.